Sun, 15 Jun 2003

Stores create pleasant ambience to attract `child buyers'

Debbie A. Lubis, Contributor, Jakarta

It was not even the weekend, but a group of housewives was seen swarming around the children's section in Metro Pondok Indah Mall.

"I was fetching my children from school when one of the mothers asked me to browse here. The place has a discount of up to 50 percent, so I didn't have to think twice," said Nurita, a mother of two daughters.

She added that taking along her children when shopping for clothes was also a good idea as her children could select items based on their own preferences.

Metro provides an array of internationally branded outlets for kids' clothes and babywear, like Elle Poupon, Oshkosh B'Gosh, Hush Puppies, Contempo, Le Monde, and so on.

Other department store chains, such as Matahari, Ramayana or foreign chains such as Sogo, open special counters to cater for the growing demand in children's apparel. The stores provide a special space for a wide range of products for children and babies, such as clothes, accessories, bags, hats, shoes, toys, and sometimes, books.

Especially for garments, the department stores offer a complete collection of jumpers, dresses, slacks, jackets, sweaters and sportswear. They also offer coordinating sets of skirts, slacks and tops for girls, and slacks, shirts and T- shirts for boys. The end users of this apparel are boys and girls up to 14 years old.

Many of the department stores also create a pleasant atmosphere by playing children's songs or placing animals or cartoon pictures on the walls or floor, or by hanging them from the ceiling.

Take, for example, Oshkosh B'Gosh outlet at Sogo, Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta, which occupies three-year-old Ditto, who follows a children's song playing in the store and places his feet on the picture of a train on the floor.

Some department stores also place the children's section near a games area, bookstore or food court. Ramayana and Robinson, located at Depok Plaza, have used this strategy as the key to attracting more children and parents. The children can have fun "bathing" in small balls or riding a toy horse, car, train, ship or plane.

Meanwhile, the parents were buying every item of discounted children's wear scattered around the second floor of the plaza. "I can still keep an eye on my children as I shop, as there is no partition between the children's section and the game arena here," said Ricky, the father of three sons.

Meanwhile, Matahari department store at Town Square, Cilandak, South Jakarta, also provides a venue for children younger than five to play and listen to music. The place, called Gymboree, provides facilities for children to develop their motor skills, intelligence and ability to relate to others through songs and play equipment.

The store is designed to create a pleasant atmosphere for parents to shop. Its state-of-the-art lighting and stock of local and international brands mean that parents stay for hours browsing for children's wear and accessories. Low-end, midrange and top-end items are on offer here. The retailer also sells its own fashion line, Little M.

Another marketing strategy adopted by the department store is to offer special designs. A Jasmine costume (a character in the movie Aladdin) at Kidz Station, Sogo, Plaza Indonesia, has enchanted Wisnu to buy it for her niece. "Next week is her birthday and I believe her eyes will light up when she sees this," he said, referring to a silky dress produced by Disney.

To attract children, the store has also set up a miniature carousel and several toy horses in the space in front of the entrance. It also provides a space for customers to enjoy refreshments.